There Were Giants on the Earth in Those Days

by George F. Sowers, (F.ASCE), Regents Professor of Civ. Engrg.; Georgia Inst. of Tech., Atlanta, Ga. 30332; also Sr. Vice Pres., Law Engrg. Testing Co., 2749 Delk Road, S.E., Marietta, Ga. 30067,

Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 4, Pg. 383-419

Document Type: Journal Paper


There are numerous examples of noteworthy pre-Columbian geotechnology in the Americas. These include earth mounds, stone temple pyramids, pile foundations, roads, retaining walls, terraces, irrigation structures, and small dams. They exhibit well-conceived designs and organized construction. Some investigators speculate that these sophisticated works reflect unrecorded technology from the Old World or possibly extra-terrestial intervention. However, the responsibility can be found in both indigeneous, ingeneous responses to local social and economic problems as well as well-organized community efforts. The lack of a formal system of logic, mathematical computation, and written communication inhibited the development and interaction of the embryonic technologies. Their decay was completed by the European conquest.

Subject Headings: Pile foundations | Dam foundations | Rocks | Religious buildings | Highways and roads | Retaining structures | Irrigation | Earthfill dams

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